In physics, chemistry and materials science, percolation (from Latin percolare, "to filter" or "trickle through") refers to the movement and filtering of fluids through porous materials. It is described by Darcy's law. Broader applications have since been developed that cover connectivity of many systems modeled as lattices or graphs, analogous to connectivity of lattice components in the filtration problem that modulates capacity for percolation.
During the last decades, percolation theory, the mathematical study of percolation, has brought new understanding and techniques to a broad range of topics in physics, materials science, complex networks, epidemiology, and other fields. For example, in geology, percolation refers to filtration of water through soil and permeable rocks. The water flows to recharge the groundwater in the water table and aquifers. In places where infiltration basins or septic drain fields are planned to dispose of substantial amounts of water, a percolation test is needed beforehand to determine whether the intended structure is likely to succeed or fail. In two dimensional square lattice percolation is defined as follows. A site is "occupied" with probability p or "empty" (in which case its edges are removed) with probability 1 – p; the corresponding problem is called site percolation, see Fig. 2.
Percolation typically exhibits universality. Statistical physics concepts such as scaling theory, renormalization, phase transition, critical phenomena and fractals are used to characterize percolation properties. Combinatorics is commonly employed to study percolation thresholds.
Due to the complexity involved in obtaining exact results from analytical models of percolation, computer simulations are typically used. The current fastest algorithm for percolation was published in 2000 by Mark Newman and Robert Ziff.